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Day 3 early voting: In shorter hours

I’ve heard a few people complain about the shorter early voting hours in the first week.

For the first five days for early voting, Harris County’s 46 polling locations open at 8 a.m. and close at 4:30 p.m., the earliest time among the 15 Texas counties with the most registered voters.

Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart, as the county’s chief election official, sets the early voting schedule and number of locations with approval from Harris County Commissioners Court. The county has closed its early voting locations at 4:30 p.m. for years, well before Stanart’s tenure.

Nonetheless, some have worried the hours hinder the county’s ability to meet voter demand, and possibly discourages people from casting ballots.

Harris County’s polling schedule coincides with the regular business hours of Stanart’s office, which Stanart said was standard procedure. He said he would need to receive a waiver from the Texas secretary of state to extend the hours further, because the state Election Code says early voting “shall be conducted” during the hours in which the clerk’s “main business office is regularly open for business.”

However, Sam Taylor, a spokesman for the secretary of state’s office, said those hours represent only a minimum requirement. Three Texas-based attorneys with expertise in elections also said they were unaware of a waiver requirement.

“I’ve never heard of a waiver,” said Buck Wood, an Austin-based election-law attorney. “I’ve never had anybody complain to me about it, and I’ve been doing this for almost 50 years.”

The section Stanart referenced applies only to counties in which the county clerk acts as the “early voting clerk.” In some cases, that duty falls to an appointed elections administrator, who follows a different set of guidelines for setting early voting hours.

Several other large Texas counties, including Travis, assign election duties to the county clerk and had early voting hours that extend beyond the clerk’s regular business hours, with some going from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

For his part, Stanart said he would have kept polls open later — like he did in 2016 — had he known turnout would reach such high levels. Midterm elections typically yield much lower turnout than those held in presidential years; the last time more than half of registered voters cast a ballot in a Texas midterm election was 1994.

“Nobody out there was ever predicting that we’d have this big” turnout, Stanart said.

Well, Stanart himself suggested we could get up to a million votes this year. To be fair, he meant overall, but at the pace we’re going now we could get there just by the end of the EV period. I voted yesterday during lunchtime, and it took me about fifteen minutes to get to the front of the line. So yeah, we’re still busy.Here are the totals for Wednesday, and here are the daily totals from 2010, from 2014, and from 2016, as well as a spreadsheet with totals from 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016. The running tallies:

Year    Mail    Early    Total
2010  28,104   79,678  107,782
2014  46,293   61,100  107,393
2018  55,506  190,445  245,951

2008  34,527  126,394  160,921
2012  47,265  150,722  197,987
2016  70,023  217,111  277,134

Breaking news: In person voting was down yesterday! From sixty-four thousand to sixty-two thousand, so, you know. I’m guessing the rain may have held a few people back. At this point, we’re two-thirds of the way to matching the entire early vote total from 2014, and at the rate we’re going we’ll at least get very close to that by the end of voting on Friday. Things are busy elsewhere in the state as well. Here are the totals through Day 2 in the big counties. El Paso has already exceeded its EV total from 2014. We’re well into uncharted territory. It’s just a matter of how much farther we go from here.

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  1. Manny Barrera says:

    For now what I am seeing is that Hispanics are certainly voting in a much higher percentage than in previous mid terms. According to some sources it is up about 100%. Younger people percentages are also up.

    Based on comments in blogs, news stories, etc. Republicans are keeping quiet compared to 2016.

    Hillary carried Harris County by 12% but the Democrats won Harris County by 3-5 percents in the lower ballots like Judges.

    This year there the Democrats are doing much more and I expect that the difference to be greater.

    Vote Straight Democrat if you care about our country.

  2. Paul Kubosh says:

    I believe the heavy turn out will benefit the Democrats.

  3. Mainstream says:

    Some Republican analysts consider that if turnout continues at this level, that up to 4 Harris County state house seats could be in play. I am not that pessimistic, as I think some of the early vote surge is from energized Republicans.

  4. Sue says:

    Speaking as a former EV clerk, it would be extremely difficult to find election workers to work the 2 weeks of Early Voting if hours were extended the first week to match the hours of the second week. They’re already working 12 days straight with 14 hour days the second week. There is plenty of time for voters to get to the polls with the 2 week schedule that is already in place. I personally prefer voting in my own precinct on election day, lines are usually much shorter than EV, especially now that so many people vote during EV.

  5. Manny Barrera says:

    Mainstream why would anyone think it is energized Republicans? What would they be energized about, the tax break for the billionaires and corporations? The fact that they repealed Obamacare? The trillion dollar a year deficit? The tariffs?

    I had never sent money to national candidates, I sent to Doug Jones, Conner Lamb, plus have given to numerous congressional candidates here in Texas, plus to Beto O’Rourke and Lupe Valdez. With the exception maybe one brother we have all voted straight Democrat in my family and have made sure that our children vote like wise.

    The only people that should feel that this country under Trump and the present Republican Party is going in the right direction are white straight males.

    You read Big Jolly, have you noticed that some people there have written that if Adrian Garcia wins it is because his people only vote for their kind?

    Well I don’t correspond to piece of racist blog anymore, if I did I would point out that the Republican Party is almost entirely white, so what are they doing? When Devine ran for Supreme Court why did he run against Medina? You should know he said it, He is a Mexican and I can beat him I am white, used other words same meaning.

  6. Manny Barrera says:

    I didn’t even mention that white education women have a lot to lose under the Trump and the males that support him, oh I just did.

  7. Andrew Lynch says:

    early vote surge is from energized Republicans.

  8. Mainstream says:

    Manny: the mobs yelling at and lecturing Senators in elevators, following Maxine Waters’ suggestion to hound Cruz or Sanders or McConnell or others from restaurants, scratching at the Supreme Court doors have caused a visceral response among Republicans of all stripes, including many who don’t like Cruz or Trump. Politics has become that polarized and tribal. Many Republicans this year have been unwilling to place yard signs for fear of being attacked by or ridiculed by or provoking arguments with neighbors, as irrational as that may seem. Thus the new slogan: jobs, not mobs.

  9. Gee says:

    Mainstream if you think two women in an elevator is a “mob” then, among other things, you have a short memory. Republicans who want to argue about “mobs” need to check themselves first. The domestic terrorism we are seeing is not coming from the left, and it’s not new. It’s simply found a new cheerleader in a powerful office. Please do watch this for a refresher from the last decade.

    Also see Charlottesville, pro-Trump fascist Proud Boys group attacking Democratic offices in Florida this month, attacking people on the street in NYC and Portland this month, McConnell attacking Medicare and Social Security, etc. this month. That’s just this month. Do we need to go back to Charlottesville? Dylann Roof? Domestic terrorism, perpetrated by white men.


    Also anyone considering voting straight ticket on should watch this ABC13 video first. Our outdated POS voting machines are changing straight Dem ballots to Ted Cruz votes, and GOP straight ticket to no vote.

    We deserve better than this.

  10. Manny Barrera says:

    Mainstream if you were not such a hater and liar like Trump you would remember all those Mobs called Tea Party. But then again you are a denier of history.

  11. Manny Barrera says:

    Want to see how weird the Republicans have gotten, from a Conservative Blog

    I attended the MAGA rally at Toyota Center, arrived at 10:00 am and entered the arena at 3:00 for the program that started at 6:30. I took a laminated copy of my Memorandums to the President, collected and delivered by Robert David Steele. I showed this to over a hundred MAGA supporters, and only three disagreed.

    “Twin Towers Destroyed Using Clean Nukes” > controlled demolition of WTC1, 2 & 7″

    Only three sane people among the 100.

  12. Mainstream says:

    Gee: I am not suggesting the anger or violence is assymetrical, only that it is motivating and escalating and deepening divisions. Just this week President Trump congratulated a Montana politician who had assaulted a journalist some years ago, and he brazenly encouraged supporters to beat up protesters at his rallies in 2016. But we had a young man in Houston attempt to blow up a statue of Dowling, and last year a Bernie Sanders supporter tried to kill the Republican congressional softball team.

  13. Sue says:

    Re Gee’s comments about the voting machines changing peoples’ votes. Every year there are a handful of voters who complain about this, but I have found at the polling site where I used to work that it was always due to voter error. Usually in these cases, the voter has selected straight party and then gone back and selected their favorite candidate for good measure to make sure they voted for him/her. In essence, what they just did was deselect their candidate. If there truly was a problem with a machine, that machine would screw up everyone’s vote who voted on that machine and the clerks would certainly know to pull that machine off-line and report it. This is a news story every year. We actually have some of the best machines in the state. If you’ve voted on election day in your own precinct recently, you should notice that the county has moved from paper poll books to IPads so its very easy to check the voters in now. That was a pretty huge investment which is paying off. If the voter is in the wrong precinct, the IPads will indicate where that voter is supposed to vote. Really neat tool.

  14. Manny Barrera says:

    Gee I have been told that in some polling locations that when the Republican is in charge they sometimes don’t vote the way people who need help desire. Did you see anything like that?

  15. C.L. says:

    I’m with Sue. If there truly was a problem with the voting machines, wouldn’t we be hearing from republican voters who were bent that their Cruz vote showed up under Beto’s name ? I’m chalking it up to voter error as well. To think otherwise would be to believe some republicans were tech savvy enough to hack their way into the machines, but the Dems weren’t….